10-Things to Blog About in August

August is tricky.

Summer is nearing its official end, but it still feels HOT in most parts of the United States. As I write this, we’re having a heatwave here in central Pennsylvania.

The confusing part? I already see pumpkin spice everything, sweater fashion, and yes, even Halloween candy! While some people are clinging to every last you-could-cook-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk heat, others have already sealed themselves inside an air-conditioned room, prepared to wait it out until fall.

But Summer is far from over, and you can take advantage of these relevant topics for your blog, social media, or emails:

National Days Calendar

I LOVE this as a resource for any business. In my experience, you can almost always find a fun topic to write about. Monday, August 9 is National Book Lovers Day, and August 11 is National Presidential Joke Day. I’m pretty sure you have a lot to say about both of those days.

Product Based Businesses

If you’re a jewelry designer, you can write about August’s birthstone, Peridot. Did you know that many people think Emerald is their only choice when it comes to green gemstones? Other product-based businesses can also capture a summer topic like how to extend the life of your garden, smart summer skincare, or what’s NEW for back-to-school.

Beauty and Wellness Businesses

August is a great time to remind your clients to drink their water, apply sunscreen, how to keep their hair or makeup looking fresh, or how to safely vacation during Covid restrictions.

Accountants and CFPs

Before we head into Q4, August is an ideal time to remind your clients of upcoming dates to be aware of, such as year-end required IRA distributions, getting their bookkeeping caught up (if they’ve fallen behind), or rules around using their HSA funds.

Career and Professional Coaches

As we near the end of the lazy days of summer, now is the time to engage your clients in Q4 planning and strategy sessions or business reviews. Before September, hold a status meeting to review where they are with their 2021 goals and what’s needed to finish the year strong.

Virtual Assistants

For many of your clients, the 2nd half of the year is their busiest season, so you can write about getting systems in place so nothing falls through the cracks or how to meet their revenue goals with special programs, offers, or discounts.

Copywriters and Marketers

The world is your oyster! You can write about almost anything! Check-in with your clients. What’s on their minds? What are they worried about or planning for? Engage them in conversation about things THEY care about and write about that!

Parenting and Mental Health Professionals

As the slower pace of summer melts into fall, parents and teachers may already be feeling anxious about back-to-school or the impending frenetic pace. Write about ways to prepare for the upcoming shift and also about remembering to practice self-care.

FAQs

Every business can write about Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a website with an FAQ section, you can write about any of those topics. You can also make a list of questions that pop up regularly and write about them.

Travel and Entertainment Businesses

Aside from the typical week-long summer vacations many people take, there are plenty of weekend activities, concerts, staycations, and mini-vacations still to be had in August. Write a listicle of local fun things to do, or write about creative ways to pull off a successful staycation.

Feeling Stuck? 

  • Start by doing a braindump of ideas. Don’t overthink. Just dump.
  • Write that first shitty draft. No editing. Thus the name “shitty”.
  • Draft an email to a friend, writing about your topic.

Still stuck? Schedule a 30-minute strategy call with me! You’ll love the energy a brainstorming session brings and I promise you’ll come away with a page full of ideas.

10-Tips for Writing a Listicle Blog Post

Warning! This is a listicle about listicles. Wait, what?

At its most basic, a listicle is simply an article, broken up into a list. But it’s so much more than that. 

I LOVE listicles! I love writing them. I love reading them. I love writing them for my clients. 

So here are my 10-Tips for Writing a Listicle, including why listicles are an excellent blog format for your business:

  1. They’re easy to consume: 

Everyone is busy; we get it. Unless your prospect is taking time to do some serious research, you’re probably going to catch them while they’re perusing your site on their mobile device. 

  1. They’re scannable: 

For the skimmers out there (probably all of us), listicles, like bulleted items, are easy to scan to get the gist of the thing. And sometimes, we want to go deeper to read more or click on something inside the copy. But the beautiful thing is we don’t have to. We can take 5 minutes and know just what the point is.

  1. Add more detail: 

Make your list scannable, but also add value by including practical information, resources, or links. Your audience may consume this now or never, but Google loves when you provide value. Plus, useful SEO-optimized content that matches what people are searching for will help your chances of ranking higher if that’s your goal.

  1. Use your expertise: 

Always, no matter what you’re writing or what format it takes, use your blog to demonstrate your knowledge and authority on a subject. A listicle might take zero research if it’s a topic you know, like the back of your hand. Test this theory: Do a brain dump on a topic you feel comfy with and see how much you can write. That might be the start of your listicle right there.

  1. Collaborate with others for exposure and backlinks: 

Your listicle could be a curated collection of things that provide value for your audience. If you mention another business, reach out to them and ask if they would share or link to your blog. It’s good for them and good for you. 

  1. Shareable on social media: 

The beauty of a listicle is that each item in the list can be repurposed on social media. For example, a listicle with 10-20 items (optimal) can be turned into 10-20 mini blogs or posts on IG or FB. I recently wrote a blog on product descriptions and later created graphics to go with each item in my list and shared them on social media. I can use these again and again.

  1. Easy to write: 

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a 500-1000 word blog post, instead you can think of a listicle as writing 10-20 captions or paragraphs. Does this feel less daunting? I think so!

  1. Great for teaching a process: 

Listicles are a great way to teach your audience how to do something like make Kale chips (something I’m actually doing) or changing the oil in your Can-Am Spyder (something I’m not doing). But you get the idea. Think of something you do that feels routine to you, and then imagine you’re teaching a classroom full of students how to do it. Just write it like that. There’s your listicle.

  1. Ideal for showing behind the scenes: 

Maybe you want to share a behind-the-scenes look inside your workshop or studio, not necessarily for teaching, but because people love to see how stuff is made. I wrote a recent blog post for Kristen Mara Jewelry on this exact thing. She was launching a new jewelry collection, and the listicle showed her process. We then used this content to build excitement and anticipation for her latest collection while also repurposing the listicle content for social media. Boom!

  1. Mobile friendly: 

Listicles are perfectly bite-sized nuggets for consumption on our mobile devices. Did you know that 3-lines of copy in a word doc adds up to 6-lines of copy on your phone? That feels and looks like a lot of copy, and for busy people (all of us), they might just scroll on by. Most people nowadays consume content on their phones, so take the extra step to see how your blog post looks on mobile.

Are you feeling inspired to try your hand at writing a listicle blog? I’m willing to bet it goes easier than a regular blog post, and you might even surprise yourself with how much content you can create that’s already in your head!

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes! Need help? I’m here for you. Contact me today to schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session!

MY Year of YES!

Photography by Sandra Costello

Ok, Shonda, game on!

I just finished reading Year of Yes, and I’m not trying to steal your thunder or anything like that. Promise. But it’s time for MY Year of YES!

I’m a homebody. A varsity-team recluse. That is until I miss my kids or sisters, and then I go into full-on-planning-get-together mode. And after, I’m a homebody again. 

To say I was made for COVID and social distancing…that’s cliche. Every introvert has been claiming this for the past 18-months. But I really was made for it. 

For real. The pandemic just provided positive reinforcement that I don’t need to go anywhere or see anyone to be happy.

I’d been practicing for this moment my entire life. 

Until I decided to start practicing for the next part of my life.

My year of yes started in February when I said yes to a virtual retreat hosted by branding expert Juju Hook, called Prime Time Prosper. It was an emotional, jarring, and magical journey over 3-days with talented, beautiful prime time women (40 and over), all seeking the same thing: to design the 2nd half of our lives the way WE want. To do what WE want and build businesses we never want to retire from. Mind. Blowing.

And after saying yes to the retreat, I said yes to a year-long coaching program with the same group of women, also led by coach, mentor, sister-in-prime-time, and beautiful human, Juju Hook. 

What I expected to get from the program was guidance, support, and a roadmap for my business. Check, check and check.

What I didn’t expect? 

  • I didn’t expect to feel like I ‘belonged’ in a community of women who are kicking some major business booty. But I do.
  • I didn’t expect the pureness and richness of genuine, authentic friendship and connections.
  • I didn’t expect the giving-nature of my prime-time sisters and a culture of community over competition.

But I got ALL of this. Because I said yes.

So why stop there?

Why not say yes to something I would have said a gigantic NO to a year ago… A rebranding photoshoot with a real professional photographer. 

WTF?

Could I actually say yes to getting in front of the camera, having my makeup done by a ‘pro,’ smiling, laughing, tilting my head, and tossing my hair? Yes. I said yes.

And instead of feeling self-conscious, like I would have in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, on photoshoot day, I gave zero fucks about my past insecurities… 

too curvy, 

too busty,

too short, 

too curly-haired,

not enough this, 

not enough that,

blah, blah, BLAH!

Hey insecurities, bite me.

At 59-years old, I said yes to ME…

  • More confident in ALL of myself-ness than anytime before in my life. 
  • Yes to building the life and business I want. 
  • Yes to knowing I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 
  • Yes to connecting with amazing, talented women.
  • Yes to all of it.

I’m chipping away at things that feel uncomfortable and not quitting when things feel hard or even when the path forward is zig-zaggy and pebbled. The voices in my head that used to say ‘no, you can’t’ are now saying ‘oh hell yes, you CAN!’

My year of yes is morphing into my life of yes. I’m saying yes to all of the experiences and people of my choosing. 

Yes to overcoming challenges and fear.

Yes to more adventures.

Yes to more connections with family and friends.

Yes to my gifts and talents.

Yes to everything that ever felt out of reach or not for me.

YES, big wide world, bring it on!

Writing Product Descriptions that Sell!

“My product descriptions are boring!”

“I have no stinkin’ clue what to say about this collection.”

“My jewelry descriptions all sound alike.”

I hear these comments pretty often, and one of the most common requests I get from my clients who have product-based businesses is asking for help with product descriptions.

With just a few simple guidelines, you’ll be on your way to writing product descriptions that sell and are far from boring:

Keep the focus on your ideal client.

Ask yourself:

  • What are their problems, pain points, or desires?
  • What makes them feel comfortable or cared for? 
  • What matters to them?

How you answer these questions about your ideal client will dictate your next steps when writing your product descriptions. By addressing these fundamental questions, you’ll be able to use just the right language to grab their attention and convert sales.

Talk about benefits first, features next.

Benefits will speak to how your product will make your customer feel or how it will solve their problem and then make them feel. They’ll care less about features if they know your product will fix something or make them feel better. So focus on benefits first and features later.

Here’s an example for a shower drain screen:

Are hair-clogged shower drains drowning  you in a soggy puddle of soapy water? 

Crossing your fingers and counting your pennies to see if you can afford that $150/hour plumber? 

No need! We’ve got you covered (and your drain too) with our NEW drain screen, designed to stop hair from clogging your pipes and draining your kids’ college fund.

If you sell a luxury item, the benefits are not quite so easy because the customer doesn’t really “need” what you’re selling. So it’s even more important to figure out what matters to your customer or what emotion you need to appeal to and then start by leading with benefits.

Avoid using superlatives just because.

Superlatives like: easiest, fastest, best, most improved sound like you’re stretching the truth unless you have clear proof of these things. It’s essential to build trust with your audience, so avoid these words unless you can back them up.

Tap into your ideal client’s imagination.

When you’re selling online, your customer cannot pick up your products, touch, feel or smell them. So when choosing how you describe something, find words that insert your customer in the exact scenario you want to create. 

Here’s an example for an apple-spice scented candle:

You’ll never forget those summer picnics in the backyard when the highlight of the day was plunging your fork into Grandma’s homemade apple pie. It was warm and crusty, not too sweet and not too tart, with a touch of cinnamon spice. These apple-spice scented candles feel like visiting grandma.

Use storytelling to overcome practical or rational objections.

This is most important when your product is a luxury item rather than a necessity. 

Some of the resistance you might face may sound like this:

  • Do I really need another pair of athletic shoes?
  • I already have 2-pairs of hoop earrings, do I need another pair?
  • The wine glasses I have are dated but they’re good enough.

By interjecting a story with your ideal client at the center, you’ll get them to look past their objections by painting a picture and appealing to their emotions. Use sensory words to elicit feelings.

Here’s an example for a leather backpack: 

You’ve had your fill of “rules” for now. The weather forecast is showing sun for days. You gas up your machine, pack your Gridiron Black Leather Backpack and start misbehavin’ a little. You are daring. Dazzling. Unpredictable.

Back it all up with social proof.

Use testimonials and reviews as much as possible on your product pages. Most customers want to see social proof and know that others have tried and loved your product or service.

Make your descriptions visually scannable.

This applies to other parts of your website as well. Here are the most important components:

  • Name of Product as a Subhead: Make sure this is bigger than the rest of the description or in a secondary color.
  • Great Photography: This is a must. Your imagery is the first impression of your product. If your images are dark, fuzzy, unclear, or too far away, your clients might just skip right over them.
  • Storytelling Intro: This is where you talk about benefits and tell a story for your customer, and put them at the center of it. 
  • Features and Facts: Here’s the nitty-gritty about the product. Materials, size, and any specific and pertinent details. List these in bullet form for easy scannability.

Use words and phrases that sell.

With your choice of pretty much the entire dictionary, don’t reinvent the wheel. Use words that have been tested and proven to convert sales:

Urgent words – limited quantity, for today only, don’t wait, while it lasts

Words about your audience – you, your, yours

Newness – introducing, launching, brand new, be the first

Reassurance – guaranteed, easy, simple

Build a word bank.

Store it in Google Drive or whatever system you use like Asana or Trello, and consider the following:

  • List the words that best describe your product or service. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use a thesaurus to expand on your initial list. 
  • List words that you use in everyday communications when writing or speaking
  • Make a note of words you would never use or that are just not you. This is helpful if you are working with a copywriter.
  • Your word bank becomes your go-to when you’re writing anything for your business, not just your product descriptions.

Test. Test. Test.

As with everything related to your product, sales, and marketing, nothing is set in stone. If you feel like your descriptions could be improved or could use a refresh after a while, go for it!

The same is true for your emails, blog posts, and website content. Make a plan and then test it to evaluate your results via actual data. Keep what’s working, and revise and retest what’s not.

Need a little help with product descriptions? Let’s set up a 30-minute complimentary discovery session to dig a little deeper and get you on your way to some kickass product descriptions that sell!